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Jerry Sandusky: Three jurors picked in child sex-abuse trial

June 05, 2012|By Michael Muskal

The widow and son of football legend Joe Paterno are among potential witnesses in the child sex-abuse case of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the defense indicated as three potential jurors were chosen on Tuesday.

A pool of just two journalists is permitted in the packed courtroom during what is expected to be four days of jury selection. Reports indicate that three of the 16 jurors and alternates have been chosen in the highly publicized trial that roiled Penn State and the surrounding Pennsylvania community.

The jurors were picked during the morning session in a Bellfonte, Penn., courtroom, defense attorney Karl Rominger told the Associated Press during the midday break. There will be 12 jurors and four alternates selected for the trial expected to last several weeks. Testimony could begin as early as next week. 

PHOTOS: Who's who in the case

Sandusky, 68, is facing 52 criminal counts of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year span. The boys were clients at Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded, and some of the incidents of abuse are alleged to have taken place on the Penn State campus.

During questioning, potential jurors were shown lists of possible witnesses who may be called. Among those named were Joe Paterno’s widow, Sue, and their son, Jay. Also on the list were assistant football coach Mike McQueary and his father, John.

It was McQueary, then a graduate assistant and now on leave, who went to Paterno and reported that he had seen Sandusky in the showers with a 10-year-old boy. Paterno went to university president Graham Spanier.

The university trustees dismissed Paterno and Spanier from their posts in November for not acting forcefully enough in dealing with the reports of sexual abuse. Paterno died of cancer in January.

The jurors will not be sequestered, Cleland said during the morning session, in which the first group of 220 jurors was questioned. The judge warned jurors to avoid news accounts or social media postings.

“No one in the world will know as much about this trial as the people sitting in the jury box,” Cleland reportedly said.

Cleland spoke to the jurors as a group, then they were taken in smaller groups of 40 for more questions. They will eventually be questioned individually in a process that Cleland has indicated he would like completed this week. Of the first group of 40, five were dismissed for medical reasons or vacation plans.

The defense fought hard to have the trial held locally in the hopes of getting a sympathetic jury. Jurors on Tuesday morning were asked to indicate any connections to the principals.

According to reports, about a dozen signaled that they worked or had retired from Penn State, while a handful more said they had spouses who worked for the school. Four indicated they knew Sandusky and two said they knew his wife, Dottie.

Two potential jurors indicated they had previously volunteered with the charity Sandusky had founded for at-risk youths in 1977.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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